Thunder predicted to use significant cap space this summer, but it won't be for stars

Los Angeles Clippers v New York Knicks
Los Angeles Clippers v New York Knicks / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

As things currently stand, the OKC Thunder find themselves heading into the 2024 NBA Offseason with roughly $35 million in spending power, the fifth-most out of any team in the entire association.

With this along with the facts that they just wrapped up this past campaign with the best record in the Western Conference (57-25), took part in their first semifinal berth since the Kevin Durant era, and still have a majority of their core attached to rookie-scale or reasonably-priced contracts, many may argue that this summer might be the time to use this aforementioned cap space to go star chasing.

However, Bleacher Report's Greg Swartz doesn't believe this would be the most logical use of their enviable financial situation, as the seasoned writer predicts that Sam Presti and company will try to divvy up their coin and spread the wealth through signings of proven role players who could help better fill out coach Mark Daigneault's roster.

Thunder predicted to 'split' spending power among role players

Considering the likes of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jalen Williams, and Chet Holmgren are all slated to receive new lucrative extensions over the next several seasons, this summer is likely one of the last where the Thunder will have such high-end spending power.

However, instead of committing substantial, long-term money to one of this offseason's top-billed available players, Swartz is projecting that the front office will be more inclined to shell out shorter-term deals, particularly for trustworthy rotation players.

"Chasing a big free agent (Paul George, Nic Claxton, Tobias Harris) is an option, but OKC should be careful not to stunt the growth of the terrific core that's already been assembled.

Expect Sam Presti to chase veterans on one- or two-year deals who can play off the bench in specialty roles. This could include players such as Gary Harris, Nic Batum, Kyle Anderson or Andre Drummond, giving the Thunder some additional depth and matchup possibilities while not filling up their future cap sheets."

Greg Swartz

While the more entertaining course of action is always a pursuit of star players, with many fans and pundits believing that a reunion with former Thunder star and potential impending free agent Paul George could be both fun and valuable for the team, being they already possess studs like Gilgeous-Alexander, J-Dub, and Holmgren, perhaps the only things they need added are, in fact, role players.

Easily one of the most frequently discussed non-star free agents who is being tabbed as a possible target for OKC this summer is New York Knicks big Isaiah Hartenstein who, with his defensive chops, rebounding abilities, and 7-foot, 249-pound frame, is viewed as a "realistic" option and a highly-impactful talent who could help shore up many sore spots within the club's rotation.

However, outside of him, there are a slew of other players available that could, in theory, aid in addressing some of the team's weaknesses, particularly in the size, rebounding, and long-range shooting departments, and many of the options mentioned by Swartz very well could be considered.

With the way this past season ended, the Thunder might not be one big player away from making a serious run for an NBA Championship in the near future but, instead, are perhaps in need of a few smaller-name talents who can play their roles to a tee.